Dominika Cibulkova completed a remarkable turnaround at the WTA Finals in Singapore with a 6-3 6-4 victory over world number one, Angelique Kerber in Sunday’s final.
The 27-year-old Slovakian started the tournament with a narrow loss to Kerber, but she came full circle on Sunday night, outclassing the German to claim the biggest title of her career.
Cibulkova not only delighted the Singapore crowd with her stunning foot-work and crunching groundstrokes all through the week, she also showed remarkable resilience to fight back from the brink of elimination to emerge as the last woman standing.
She seemed destined for the exit door after losing her first two matches, but she battled past Simona Halep in her final group match to sneak into the semi-finals.
There again, she was up against it against Svetlana Kuznetsova, but Cibulkova recovered from a first-set blow out to take the match in three sets.
The straight-forward nature of Sunday’s final was a departure from Cibulkova’s topsy-turvy tournament, but she save her best performance for the biggest stage, hitting through Kerber in an hour and 16 minutes.
It’s hard to imagine Cibulkova playing any better. She served superbly- at 83%- firing 28 winners against just 14 unforced errors, and rendering Kerber’s famed defence powerless on the night.
The Slovakian naturally got nervous as she approached the finish line, failing to convert three match points, but she caught a lucky break when one final forehand hit the net cord and dropped in Kerber’s half of the court.
Kerber couldn’t quite get the job done on the day, but this loss takes absolutely nothing away from what has been a quite outstanding season.
The moment however belonged to Dominika Cibulkova, who rises to a career-high number five in the world following her exploits in Singapore.